Surveys have detected koalas in the Kosciuszko National Park, which could provide insight into increasing populations of the endangered marsupial.
Male koalas were observed at 14 sites in the park’s Byadbo Wilderness Area in surveys conducted in November and February.
NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said before the most recent surveys, just 16 sightings had been recorded in the park in the past 80 years.
The national park could provide a refuge for koalas.
“From here, we need to better understand the population and the impact this discovery could have on the survival of the species,” Mr Griffin said.
The iconic marsupials were listed as endangered last month after a determination from the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which noted habitat loss had significantly affected populations.
The sightings at Kosciuszko came from Australian National University in partnership with the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service using spotlight survey and acoustic recorders.
ANU science professor David Lindenmayer said Kosciuszko National Park could host a significant population of koalas at low densities.
“These findings are important because of the area’s elevation, which we hope will make the populations more resilient to climate change,” Mr Lindenmayer said.
Additional surveys are being conducted to map the distribution of koalas in the national park.
NSW has a $193 million Koala Strategy aimed at conserving habitat and further researching the species to prolong its survival as it attempts to double the state’s koala population by 2050.
The state has also acquired land it plans to turn into safe havens for wildlife at risk of endangerment or extinction.
Last month, the state announced the acquisition of 2000 hectares of bushland around the state.
One of the acquisitions included 130 hectares of wet forest north of Taree featuring gumtrees that koalas live in and feed off.